|The Snake Charmer, Henri Rousseau, 1907|
for Tess Kincaid's Magpie Tales
The wall came down precisely:
exterior shingles – to be saved, plaster cut
with a tiny hand saw inside a plastic tent,
to stop the flow of dust all over the house.
The wishful view of the Volunteer vs Thistle,
framed in gold on a turquoise sea,
gave way to a triple window – a woodland view –
and seventy two panes of glass to paint.
Let there be light – and an interlude:
The Lemon Tree grew in the oldest greenhouse,
planted in 1900. I didn’t dare ask if the snake
still lived in this tropical jungle of exotica;
I knew I’d watch for it – I was here on a mission –
looking for Eden ten miles from home
at Logee’s* on North Street;
I’ve had the gift card, tucked away for someday,
for seven years; for this day, when I craved a tour
of a tropical jungle in a century old glass house
to see The Lemon Tree – and the guava fruit,
the pink trumpets of the Angels Blushing Beauty**,
to inhale the hypnotic scent of the gardenia,
touch the twisting trunks and run my fingers
through the twining vines to meet Rousseau’s muse
in a tropical jungle – where The Snake Charmer lives.
A black Eve I had not hoped for, nor had she appeared
in the glass house; but there she was outside,
strolling up the road in stretch denim jeans,
shoulder bag swaying, blond streaked pony-tail,
like the Citrus medica ‘Buddha’s Hand’** in the hot house,
cell phone to her ear, surely charming a “Betes Sauvage”***from her personal Eden.
I stroked the soft, velvety leaves of my purchase,
two scented geraniums for the new windows,
reserving nineteen dollars and fifty six cents
for my next excursion to Logee’s Eden.
*** Betes Sauvages, album of wild beasts, Paris Museum of Natural History.